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THE GREAT GATSBY
3D Blu-ray Combo Pack

Review by Michael Jacobson

Stars: Leonardo DiCaprio, Tobey Maguire, Carey Mulligan, Joel Edgerton, Isla Fisher
Director: Baz Luhrmann
Audio: DTS HD 5.1
Video: Anamorphic Widescreen 2.40:1
Studio: Warner Bros.
Features: See Review
Length: 143 Minutes
Release Date: August 27, 2013

You can't change the past.”

Of course you can.”

Film ****

The Great Gatsby is one of the quintessential American novels. It was F. Scott Fitzgerald capturing a mood, a spirit, and a feeling of the 1920s for all time like an emotional photograph. It introduced us to a memorable titular character, a tragic love story, and perhaps the ultimate cautionary tale that money does not in deed buy happiness (which I believe, but I would still just like one chance to actually prove to myself).

There have been several filmed adaptations over the years, and the latest and boldest is from director Baz Luhrmann, a name that has become synonymous with indulgence and excess. His vision is uncompromisingly and unapologetically over the top, which has led many a prominent critic to dismiss his unbridled dreamscapes. But for the right fans, his works have truly been magical, taking audiences without cynicism to worlds of pure fantasy where anything might, and usually does, happen.

The story, of course, is told through the point of view of Nick Carraway (Maguire), an aspiring writer making ends meet by selling bonds, and who just happens to find himself in New York as the neighbor of the elusive and mysterious Jay Gatsby (DiCaprio). He lives “next door”, but that's a relative term. It only means his is the next closest house to Gatsby's sprawling palace of partying and excesses.

Gatsby is known for throwing the most outlandish celebrations the city has ever seen, though he himself is rarely glimpsed at them. There are stories and rumors buzzing about who he really is and how he managed to amass such a fortune. When Gatsby finally meets Nick, he spills many stories about himself, with charm...but you can't help feeling that some, or all of them, can't be true.

Nick's cousin is Daisy Buchanan (Mulligan), and it turns out there's a connection...Daisy and Gatsby were romantically involved prior to the war, and after Gatsby had disappeared off the map serving his country for five years, the heartbroken girl had married another, Tom Buchanan (Edgerton).

Gatsby wants Nick to arrange a meeting with Daisy, who doesn't know he's back or alive. His hope is to rekindle their love, in spite of her new marriage to a man who isn't faithful, and win her back for all time.

The real story of Gatsby is a tragedy wrapped in splendor. He is a man who devoted everything he was, had, and would become, to the idea of his love for Daisy. His wealth, excesses, and style were all a part of that vision of winning her back. And yes, he harbors a dark secret or two...secrets that may undo every grand scheme he has imagined. But in the end, it is not his past, his money, or his image that will define Gatsby for us, the readers or movie audiences. We will remember him for his relationship with two people: his undying love for Daisy, and his friendship for Nick, who becomes the caretaker for the memory of Gatsby, the man, and not the legend.

This film is told with Luhrmann's sense of unrestrained style, but here is a novel for which the effect is not overwhelming or excessive, but a servant of the story. We have to believe Gatsby's wealth, and to believe that his indulgences are all aimed at recapturing the attention of a lost love. We do.

This is a perfect blend of story and style, of narrative and vision. The cast is terrific across the board, and though many readers may quibble at some of the details that were either left out or polished up here and there, the end result is inarguably one of the year's most entertaining and enthralling offerings.

Video ****

Absolutely breathtaking...this is one of the year's finest visual offerings. There is so much detail, so much color, and so much scope that frame after frame is a masterpiece of composition. Add the 3D as well, and you have an immersive visual experience that has depth as well as detail. This movie doesn't use 3D for novelty, but as an important tool used to give space to beautifully balanced and crafted images. This disc alone is reason enough for you to invest in 3D home theatre technology.

Audio ****

The DTS HD soundtrack is terrific, with powerful dynamic range and strong use of all channels to bring the roaring 20s to life (and even give it a little anachronism with its modern music). Spoken words are clean and clear, and the mix is flawless...quiet or loud, you can hear every detail.

Features ***1/2

There are a number of good featurettes included on the 2D Blu-ray disc, including “The Greatness of Gatsby”, which shows how Luhrmann went about bringing the classic novel to the screen. There are also featurettes with Tobey Maguire, the Jazz Age, the film's music, the fashion, author F. Scott Fitzgerald, and the actor workshops. There also some deleted scenes and and alternate ending, as well as the trailer for the 1926 version of the film.

There is also a DVD copy of the film and the ability to watch the movie anywhere you go with Ultraviolet.

Summary:

The Great Gatsby is everything you want in a home theatre experience...entertainment and extravagance mixed with one of the years finest visual and audio experiences, as well as one of the best 3D presentations on the market.

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